Category Archives: Speeches

Romancing Opiates speech at 2016 “How the Light Gets In” Festival

Dalrymple’s speech at this year’s festival, organized by the Institute of Art and Ideas in Hay-on-Wye, is a recap of the argument from his book Romancing Opiates, an argument that I’m sure can be a little eyebrow-raising at first. Dalrymple begins the speech:

It’s my contention, if you’re an average audience, at least an audience interested in this subject, that everything you think you know about heroin addiction and addiction to other opiates is false. It belongs to the realm of mythology that has been assiduously peddled down the ages so that even doctors who should know better believe the myths.

If the embedded video below doesn’t work, you can register for free on their website and watch it there.

Dalrymple’s Australia speech

You can find audio of Dalrymple’s speech from his recent speaking tour of Australia in a few places around the net. There is audio here, and you should also be able to find it on the Podcast app on your smartphone. He gave the same speech in each location, so there is some redundancy, but there are also audience questions on these recordings, which are of course different in each location (if you find that interesting). Enjoy!

Dalrymple to speak in Australia

The Centre for Independent Studies, an Australian organization that seeks to promote “individual liberty and responsibility, free enterprise, the rule of law and limited, democratic government” will host Dalrymple on a speaking tour of Australia later this month. According to their website, Dalrymple will speak in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in that order. The full schedule and details are here.

Dalrymple promotes new book on visit to U.S.

Dalrymple has spent the last few days making the rounds in New York and Washington, D.C. promoting his new book, Admirable Evasions: How Modern Psychology Undermines Morality.

He spoke at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. The video is here. The action doesn’t start until the 21:30 mark. (Update: the video has now been edited.)

On Thursday he visited the Wall Street Journal and recorded two short video interviews. In this one he addresses Islamic extremism, and here he discusses his book’s thesis that psychology has been a generally useless attempt to avoid the reality that “the permanent condition of mankind is dissatisfaction”. (H/t Michael G.)

On Thursday evening the New Criterion hosted a launch party in New York City for the book, and your humble correspondents (along with Skeptical Doctor reader Adam) enjoyed seeing the good doctor once again. He spoke for a few minutes, humorously sharing the titles of the psychology-inspired self-help books he noticed in the bookstore of DC’s Union Station.


Other attendees included his old City Journal editor Myron Magnet, Roger Kimball and James Panero.

Life at the Top: The Worldview That Makes the Elites

Last May, Dalrymple gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. We linked to it at that time but only as part of a mass post with links to many of his recent essays. We’ve been asked to post the speech individually and are quite happy to do so, as I fear many people probably did not see it the first time.


Dalrymple’s readers know that his work has attempted to shine a light on the worldview of those at the bottom of society and to explain how much modern social pathology results from an embrace of the ideas of those at the top. In this speech he was asked to explain the latter group: what the elite believe and why. The title is thus a reference to his most well-known work, Life at the Bottom.

As one of many examples of elite opinion, Dalrymple cites a public debate he had with a “well-known left-liberal journalist” on “the social, psychological, and cultural effects of the welfare state”:

Now, if the success of [Jewish and Sikh] immigrant groups in a tolerably open society… was not the result of a sinister conspiracy, what they had done could, in principle, be done by anyone else. What prevented them from going ahead and doing it?

It was my contention that it was the “mind-forg’d manacles,” among which manacles were the very ideas peddled so assiduously during her career by this very journalist: namely, that without the assistance of government bureaucracies paid for by taxation they could do nothing to improve their lot, an attitude that was bound to foster resentful passivity—resentful because no assistance can ever be enough for a passive person.

What my opponent wanted to deny was that there were any such things as mind-forg’d manacles; and the reason that she wanted to deny their existence, I suggest, is that to have done otherwise, to have admitted their existence, would have been to destroy her worldview completely, according to which only social injustice to be righted by state action (as suggested by her) would have redeemed the very many people in our society who are undoubtedly sunk in a wretched and pitiful condition. To have admitted their existence would not only have been to deny her the role of Salvationist to the masses, but suggested to her that her career had been dedicated to ensuring that the manacles were never struck off but rather strengthened and reinforced.

Thank you to the Heritage Foundation for hosting the speech and for reminding us that we never gave it the proper attention it deserves.

You can find the text of the speech here.

Catching up

We apologize for our recent long absence, as we were attending our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration in our country’s spectacular Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Besides offering a wonderful time, it was an occasion to catch up with our family, and is now causing me to reflect on the truth of one of Dalrymple’s most important arguments.

Steve and my family life has been as easy and happy as Dalrymple’s was (according to him) difficult and resentment-producing. We have never seen or heard our parents even argue. That humans can be happy, civilized, and morally upright without questioning existing mores, or even being much inclined to reflection at all, as long as the proper prejudices (properly understood) are inculcated in them, is a truth on constant display by our parents. For which we are extremely grateful.

In the meantime we have fallen far behind in posting Dalrymple’s work, and this is made more difficult by the man’s unrelenting productivity (a good problem, of course). So rather than follow our usual format we are going to dump his latest pieces here:

Selling Ourselves: The body as a commodity

A series of video debates by the Institute of Art and Ideas in which Dalrymple argues that “commodification of the body leads to a vulgar and violent society”.

Life at the Top: The Worldview That Makes the Elites

On May 16th Dalrymple spoke at the Heritage Foundation, perhaps America’s most influential conservative/free market think tank, adapting the theme of what is probably his best-known book. I hope this doesn’t come off as boastful, but in creating this website Steve and I hoped to promote Dalrymple’s life and ideas and, judging by the introduction given to him before his speech, we are very pleased that someone at the Heritage Foundation has obviously read our site!

Speech: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

A few days later Dalrymple spoke at Hillsdale College, a liberal arts university in Michigan that National Review calls “a citadel of American conservatism”, condensing the arguments in Life at the Bottom and Romancing Opiates into a powerful explication of the dangers of the welfare state. Hillsdale’s impressive publication Imprimis has re-printed the speech.


Theodore Dalrymple wonders why the US authorities do not ship their condemned criminals to Belgium where that country’s doctors, skilled at euthansia, won’t make a botch of the executions.

When Eggheads Go Sour

The egghead in question being the president of Niger, who claimed that “poverty is the principal ally of terrorism”…

Ford and Against

Until quite recently I had never read John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore though I had always meant to do so, partly (I suspect) on account of its title. But while it is Man that proposes, it is Time that disposes; and it is one of the one of the glories, or at least the consolations, as well as the frustrations, of our human existence that we never have time enough to achieve all our projects and purposes. Imagine what life would be after such complete achievement, how time would stretch before us featureless as oblivion but with the torment of awareness and the awareness of awareness, without any subject except itself to be aware of! No wonder people without projects or purposes go off the rails! At least self-inflicted crises give the illusion of meaning.

What a Falling Prof. Was There

A sleepless night leads Dalrymple to Internet searches of his former professors, fellow students and colleagues.

Beauty out of madness

A review of the drawing “The Electric Pencil” by James Edward Deeds, inmate of a Missouri state psychiatric hospital.


Theodore Dalrymple on a generation who expect genius to descend on them without any effort on their part.

Is This the End of Mammograms to Screen for Breast Cancer?

Ode on a Grecian Crisis

When the French leftist newspaper Liberation attempts to blame Greece’s economic crisis on austerity, clearly a review of the country’s recent history is in order.

Vicodin Ingestion Syndrome

A major epidemic in America, which seems to me to have received rather less publicity than its scale would warrant, is the dramatic increase in the number of deaths in the country from overdose of prescription opioids.

Do Medical Experiments on Animals Really Yield Meaningful Results?

Will Legal Marijuana Be a Bonanza For Trial Lawyers?

Slobbery as Snobbery

For some, dressing poorly is a matter of ideology.

The French (Jihad) Connection

How a routine search for drugs turned up a terrorist.

Loan sharks

Theodore Dalrymple wonders at a public sector company making loans to the poor at 44% p.a.

Liberty, Equality, Regrettably

Reading the journal of an 18th Century doctor-turned-bestselling-author in France after the Revolution…


British values? Vulgarity: militant, uncompromising, aggressive and ideological